Best Practices of Grocery Store Pick Up During Covid-19 Pandemic

Best Practices of Grocery Store Pick Up During Covid-19 Pandemic

Best practices for online to curbside grocery pickup

In light of the pandemic, a lot of grocery retailers are offering curbside pickup to their customers.  For some, this is a new offering, so we thought a set of “best practices” – both for the online ordering and physical pickup might be helpful.


  1. At the very beginning of the online order process, ask the customer if they want delivery or curbside pickup.
    Why: Your availability of delivery times and pickup times will vary, and that may impact the customer’s decision to use one vs. the other.  Or, they may need something so urgently that they decide to come into the store.


  1. Present the curbside pickup times available in half-hour increments.
    Why: 15 minutes is too restrictive, and an hour may imply that they could be sitting by the curb for a long time.


  1. At the end of checkout, present clear instructions on how the pickup will work as well as the cut off time for making additions or deletions to the order.
    Why: Users worry they will forget something. Knowing how long they have to edit their shopping list gives them the peace of mind to place the order now.


  1. Once the order has been completed and paid, be sure to update it if products become unavailable before the pickup.
    Why: Knowing something is unavailable ahead of time may impact the order overall. Ex: If I’m making pot roast tonight and you don’t have pot roast, then I need to order something else.


  1. Allow the customer to specify the criteria for acceptable substitutes (i.e., same brand but a different size, or same category but any available brand).
    Why: The customer feels more in control vs. leaving it to the retail shopper to substitute.


  1. Send a text and an email an hour before the order is unchangeable. If a product is unavailable, allow the customer to add an alternative to the cart before pick up.
    Why: Provides the customer with information that the order is about to be finalized and allows them to make changes to it if needed.  It also gives them the ability to see what’s unavailable.


  1. Send a reminder text and/or email an hour before the pickup.
    Why: To let the customers know their orders are working and to encourage them or their courier to arrive on time.

At the Store

  1. Ensure the pickup area of the parking lot is visibly marked.
    Why: Particularly for first-timers, this removes the anxiety of not knowing what to do or where to go.


  1. Remind customers what they are supposed to do upon arrival. ‘Please text only “XXXX” to #####’. ‘Check-in on app’.
    Why:  In their haste, some customers don’t thoroughly read instructions, may have forgotten, or have sent someone to pick up the groceries for them. Reiterating pick up instructions at the store will ensure everyone knows what to do when they arrive.


  1. Avoid physical interaction between the store delivery employee and the customer. Use the passenger side window to communicate, request the customer to open their trunk, do not offer a paper receipt, or ask for a signature.
    Why: Social distancing. That’s why the customer chose curbside pickup.


  1. Ensure the store delivery employee wears gloves.
    Why: This continues to demonstrate the retailer’s commitment to good hygiene.


For more industry best practices, subscribe to the Usability Sciences Blog or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter